Janesville67.7°

Boys & Girls Club staff, members thank volunteers

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
February 17, 2012
— Tom Bier knelt in front of the sink cabinet at the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville.

Ed Lubeck flipped on the garbage disposal.


The machinery growled as it tried to chew glass that had found its way down the drain.


"Oh dear," Lubeck said. "We've got to get that out."


"Let's run 'er again," he said. "We might have a broken cutting wing."


Bier agreed: "We'll have to get a part, come back and put it in."


Lubeck asked Ann Walsh, club resource development director, to cover the disposal switch with a piece of tape.


Bier and Lubeck had stopped at the West Court Street club after their Wednesday morning Optimist Club meeting.


They were in for a surprise.


Club members and staff had made them huge greeting cards and bought them sweatshirts featuring a logo that said: Boys & Girls Club Handyman of the Year.


"Oh, my gosh," Bier said.


"It's humbling," Lubeck said.


"The kids do appreciate what we do, which is nice because we do it for them," Bier said.


The retirees became acquainted with the club through fellow Optimists Mitch Bliss and Paul Aurit, who played key roles in the creation of the youth organization.


After learning last year about things that needed fixing at the club, Bier and Lubeck agreed to help out.


Walsh said they donate more than time.


"They got us a like-new, used stove and two sofas, plus a used 50-inch, big-screen TV,'' she said.


They repaired the microwave, cabinet hinges and a leaky urinal. They removed towel dispensers that no longer were being used and make runs to the dump. They forged connections with businesses that have donated plumbing services, paint for the bathroom and a stove.


"They're just here for us all the time. So how do you put a value on that?" Walsh said.


Without the handymen, "we'd either have to hire someone or do without," said Carrie Kulinski, executive director.


"It just makes it easier for us to function," Walsh said.


Bier and Lubeck said volunteering at the club fits with the mission of the Optimists.


"It's for the kids who may not have an opportunity to participate in activities without the Boys & Girls Club that gives every kid an opportunity to be involved,'' Bier said.


"It's a good organization to be involved in," Lubeck said.



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